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Ngrams shows a marked preference for oop over oops up until 1990:

Is Ngrams to be trusted here? Is it strange that I've never seen oop in writing? Even Dictionary.com doesn't have anything more than acronyms under oop.

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My interpretation: Object Oriented Programming was dominant until 1990, when everyone realized their mistake, and said "oops!" – JeffSahol Sep 22 '11 at 19:33
"Oops", per the OED, was first used in 1922, possibly as a shortening of "whoops" – simchona Sep 22 '11 at 23:54
But you can't graph that on NGrams because whoops is also a verb, much more common than the interjection. I tried. – Daniel Sep 23 '11 at 11:27
up vote 8 down vote accepted


Click under the graph to get the actual hits. You find

But I feex you oop goot.
And oop there yonder in those trees,
dominant faces being ∞p (crystallography; this oo is really infinity),
Soo-oop of the ee-evening. Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

as well as a number of other "oop"s, including the call of the sooty grouse. But I didn't see any instances of "oop! I made a mistake." Most of the "oop"s seem to be "up"s spoken with a pronounced accent.

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Oh! I see I've been misunderstanding NGrams. I didn't know about those links, either. At least I can feel better about having never seen it before... – Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 19:04
The first actual hit I looked at has three panes of a window in an illustration highlighted. I knew OCR can be iffy, but that's just ridiculous. – Marthaª Sep 22 '11 at 19:14
How many are "allez oop"? – GEdgar Sep 22 '11 at 19:40
...or Alley Oop? – oosterwal Sep 22 '11 at 19:43
To confirm @Marthaª's report: here's the book with the "OOP" window panes. – ShreevatsaR Sep 23 '11 at 4:38

EtymologyOnline says oops is only attested from 1933.

To me it is likely to be a shortening of oops-a-daisy. The Phrase Finder tracks that back to upsa daesy in "The dialect of Leeds and its neighbourhood" in 1862, to up a-dazy from Jonathan Swift in 1711 and to upaday even earlier.

If oop is a dialect form of up, and oops of ups, then you might not be surprised if oop was more common than oops, at least until oops became part of a set exclamation.

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But it has a completely different meaning from "oops-a-daisy"! – Colin Fine Sep 23 '11 at 12:00
@Colin: What is the difference between "oops" and "oops-a-daisy"? – Henry Sep 23 '11 at 17:33

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